February is National Heart Health Month and Middlesboro ARH Hospital representatives plan to spend the month informing the public about why heart health is important enough to have an entire month dedicated to the issue.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 70 million American adults have high blood pressure — that’s one of every three adults, and only about half of those with high blood pressure have their condition under control.
“High blood pressure forces your heart to work too hard, and it hardens the walls of your arteries,” states ARH Cardiologist William Minteer, M.D. “That is why it’s important to check your blood pressure regularly — even record your numbers and share them with your physician.”
When taking your blood pressure, your readings are shown as two numbers, typically written as a ratio, that represent different measurements.
“These two numbers can vary, but new guidelines recommend that your numbers not go beyond 120 over 80,” says Dr. Minteer.
The American Heart Association (AHA) defines blood pressure numbers as follows: Systolic: The top number and also the higher of the two numbers. This number signifies the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (when the heart muscle contracts). Diastolic: The bottom and lower of the two numbers. It measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats (when the heart muscle is resting between beats and the heart refills with blood).
What is considered normal blood pressure or high blood pressure?
Blood pressure categories defined by the AHA are as follows: Normal blood pressure is less than 120 systolic and less than 80 diastolic, pre-hypertension is 120-139 systolic and 80-89 diastolic, high blood pressure, hypertension, stage 1, 140-159 systolic and 90-99 diastolic, high blood pressure, hypertension, stage 2, 160 or higher systolic and 100 or higher diastolic, hypertensive crisis, emergency care needed, higher than 180 systolic and higher than 110 diastolic.
If you check your blood pressure regularly and notice your numbers are getting higher, make an appointment with your physician. If high readings continue, then your physician will make a high blood pressure diagnosis.
“Whether you’ve just begun dealing with high blood pressure or have had it for several years, the good news is you can take steps to lower your blood pressure,” said Dr. Minteer.
According to Dr. Minteer, these steps focus on adopting a healthy lifestyle which includes increasing physical activity, managing your weight with a healthy diet (especially lowering your daily intake of salt), managing stress, avoiding tobacco, drinking less alcohol (if you consume alcohol) and taking any prescribed medications.
For more information on high blood pressure or to locate a physician or cardiologist near you, visit www.arh.org.